Fact sheet from the British Horse Society
Horses cannot contract Foot and Mouth Disease. However, they can play a part in spreading the disease between sites. It is therefore essential that horse owners, particularly within affected areas, employ adequate biosecurity measures to minimise the likelihood of horses being involved in disease
The Foot and Mouth virus can be transmitted between susceptible animals (i.e. cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, llamas, alpacas and deer) in various ways including:
- Contact with infected animals
- Contact with contaminated material such as mud or manure
- Contact with contaminated feedstuffs
- People, vehicles and unaffected species can facilitate the spread of the disease between affected species.
Consequently, horse owners should adhere to the following biosecurity
- Avoid all contact with susceptible animals
- Where contact is unavoidable, disinfect clothes and shoes prior to, and
immediately after, contact with susceptible animals. Ideally, a separate
set of clothes should be kept for contact with susceptible animals.
- Avoid all areas of mud and manure as these may harbour the virus
- Disinfect muddy boots and clothing
- Keep horses away from susceptible animals
- Disinfect all objects or articles of clothing that have come into contact
with farm equipment.
- Before riding, particularly if hacking out, disinfect riding boots and the horse's feet.
- Ensure the horse’s feet are thoroughly picked out before leaving the premises.
- Avoid riding in muddy areas,
- Avoid dismounting whilst riding. If this is not possible, do not dismount into muddy areas and thoroughly disinfect riding boots at the end of the ride or before entering any farm premises.
- Do not ride through fields or open spaces containing susceptible
- Do not take vehicles onto farm premises where possible and, in all cases, keep vehicles away from susceptible animals.
- Thoroughly disinfect all vehicles (including horseboxes and trailers) before leaving, and on arrival at, any farm premises.
- Do not allow susceptible animals to travel in the same vehicle as a horse, pony or donkey.
When disinfecting, it is essential to ensure that a disinfectant approved by Defra
is used. It should be diluted according to the manufacturer's instructions.
If the disinfectant is to be used on horses' hooves, the manufacturer of the selected product should be contacted to ensure that it is safe to do this, and to determine the correct dilution factor. Virkon S, when diluted correctly, is safe for use on a horse's body.
It should be noted that, at present, all of the above biosecurity measures are voluntary. However, it is particularly important that they are followed in areas near to outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease.